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DATE News (chronologically)
04/18/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

04/18/12
  • Make no mistake, NJ will be ready for F1, but will F1 be ready for NJ?
    New York trouble could be good for Austin
  • No bitterness as Red Bull congratulates Mercedes
  • 2012 rules 'deliberately' attacked Red Bull - Marko
  • 'Long way' until Schumacher contract decision - Brawn
  • Ferrari setting 2012 pace in the pits
  • Journalist sees more police on first day in Bahrain
  • County agrees to help cover F1 road improvements New
  • Ecclestone proposes 'Grand Slam' F1 races New
  • Ecclestone confirms Concorde row with Mercedes New
  • Ecclestone backs customer cars, not budget cap New

New York trouble could be good for Austin
(GMM)  Apparent troubles for New York's inaugural grand prix could be good news for Texas, according to reports in the United States.

Bernie Ecclestone said on Tuesday that the race scheduled for mid next year on the streets of New Jersey could be pushed back to 2014. (Not because NJ won't be ready, but because Bernie has no room on the schedule for NJ in 2013.  It's a real problem for Bernie, he overcommitted.)

Austin broadcaster KXAN reported that the news could mean the organizers in Austin, scrambling to have the bespoke Circuit of the Americas ready for this November's US grand prix, can get immediate access to state funding.

But a spokesman for the Texas comptroller said: "Any situation with the New Jersey race would not change the decision to not pay funds in advance of Austin's formula one race."

No bitterness as Red Bull congratulates Mercedes
(GMM)  Dr Helmut Marko insists there are no hard feelings between Red Bull and Mercedes, after Nico Rosberg last weekend scored the German carmaker's first works grand prix win in half a century.

Earlier, the two teams had been at loggerheads over the controversial 'double-DRS' innovation, with Mercedes returning fire by questioning the legality of Red Bull's engine settings.

When asked if the spat meant Sunday's Shanghai result was sour in Red Bull advisor Marko's mouth, the Austrian insisted: "We're competitors, and of course we all try to get the best outcome for our own teams.

"But I congratulated Norbert Haug sincerely at the airport in Shanghai."

Marko said the double-DRS argument is effectively now over.

"The unsuccessful protest means that the F-duct system is legal," he said, "so for us that's it."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted this week that it is "inevitable" other teams will now seek to develop their own double-DRS.

"First of all, like any component," he is quoted by the Daily Mail, "it has to earn a place on the car as a package.

"It's not a given that on everybody's car it's bolt-on lap time."

2012 rules 'deliberately' attacked Red Bull - Marko
(GMM)  Dr Helmut Marko has aimed fire at F1's new rules for 2012, claiming they were devised "deliberately" to end the era of Red Bull dominance.

"We no longer have the superiority that we had last year," the energy drink owned team's Austrian consultant acknowledged on Servus TV this week.

"This is due to several technical changes that were introduced deliberately against Red Bull," said Marko.

He conceded that the new rules apply to every team, but is clearly suggesting that the exhaust blown diffuser clampdown, and the tougher rigidity tests for the front wings, were devised with Sebastian Vettel's utter dominance of the 2011 season in mind.

"But that is not an excuse for our car not being at the level it should be at," Marko insisted.

'Long way' until Schumacher contract decision - Brawn
(GMM)  Mercedes will decide later this season if Michael Schumacher's contract will be extended beyond 2012.

The current three year deal, which began when the seven time world champion decided to return to F1 from retirement with Mercedes in 2010, runs out this season.

Schumacher struggled notably in 2010 and 2011 but appears to have returned to form with the W03, which in teammate Nico Rosberg's hands won the recent Chinese grand prix from pole.

So will the famous German, who will be 44 next year, race the W04 in 2013?

"Everything is completely open," team boss Ross Brawn is quoted by German publications, including Sport1.

"It will be clear what is best for him, what is best for us, and what is best for all of us together, at some point in the season," he added.

"But there is still a long way to go until then," said Brawn.

According to paddock insiders, a new deal for Schumacher is highly likely.

"He's a fantastic driver and a great team player," Briton Brawn, a close colleague and friend dating back to their successful days at Ferrari, concluded.

Ferrari setting 2012 pace in the pits
(GMM)  Ferrari does not have a leading car so far in 2012, but when it comes to pitstops, the famous Italian team is setting the pace.

That is the finding of the Spanish sports daily Marca, reporting that Fernando Alonso's 2.4 second pitstop in Shanghai was the fastest of all.

And the report said Ferrari's pitstops were on average six tenths better than those performed by rival top teams Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull in China.

Marca also said Ferrari has managed to speed up its pitstops compared with the 2011 season, despite the FIA's ban on helium-powered air-guns that has cost every team at least two tenths of a second.

"On a grid as tight as this one (in 2012), it is very important to take care of these sorts of details," Fernando Alonso is quoted as saying.

"They can gain you positions and points, which could be decisive at the end of the season."

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene agreed that the only missing element at the Maranello based team at present is a good car.

"On the other hand," he told Diario Sport newspaper, "it is noteworthy that we have done the best pitstops, the strategies have generally been good, and the car is reliable.

"What we lack is the pure speed, both in qualifying and the race," added Gene.

Journalist sees more police on first day in Bahrain
(GMM)  A travelling F1 journalist believes this weekend's controversial Bahrain grand prix could go ahead without problems.

Ahead of the island Kingdom's highly-contentious return to the F1 calendar this weekend after a two-year absence due to civil unrest, some of the sport's correspondents have this week been reporting from the scene of often violent protests.

The Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary said he was approached at a protest on Tuesday by a man wearing a Ferrari shirt.

"I love F1," the man said, "but not over our blood."

Some other F1 regulars have skipped Bahrain altogether, as only 260 journalists are registered to attend -- about 25 per cent down on the usual number.

Writing in the German-language Speed Week, however, Mathias Brunner endeavored simply to make his way from the airport to his hotel, and on to the Sakhir circuit, where he will spend the week reporting about the grand prix.

"I am a formula one journalist.  I travel to countries where grands prix are held," he began.

"After China, I wanted to get my own idea about what is true: the picture of the (Bahrain) government, where everything is fine, or the picture of the activists, where the entire place is in a state of civil war."

Brunner said FIA president Jean Todt had "no time" to answer questions about Bahrain when he visited the Chinese grand prix last weekend.

"My job is not to seek out unrest and talk with the opposition, but it's also not to parrot the slogans of the government.  I just want to get an impression about where the grand prix is taking place.

"My first impression is that it's stiflingly hot.  After a quarter of an hour's drive it is clear that there are more police about than on our last visit two years ago -- I have counted more than 50 vehicles, at least.

"Then I saw a burned-out police car on the right of the main road."

Brunner said he was questioned at a police check-point before reaching the Sakhir circuit, and questioned again when he parked too close to a police car in the media parking lot.

He also said he saw some police inside the circuit, before stopping for a "one stop strategy" at a fast food outlet on the return to his hotel.

"I drove a different route on purpose, and there were a lot of police on the roads there as well," said Brunner.

"But what is clear is that the view about Bahrain in the Shanghai paddock (last weekend) in no way reflects the true situation in the country," he concluded.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that the race could theoretically still be cancelled as late as Thursday.

County agrees to help cover F1 road improvements
Travis County commissioners Tuesday agreed to pay for at least part of two key road expansions near the Circuit of the Americas, the track in southeastern Travis County scheduled to host its first Formula One Grand Prix in November. The decision represents a significant shift from some officials' earlier insistence that organizers pick up the full tab for the work.

The improvements, both approved by a 3-2 vote, involve the widening of Elroy Road, which borders the track, and a two-thirds of a mile extension of little-used Kellam Road to Pearce Lane, which would create another artery to the track.

"For the last two years, we've maintained that F1 should pay its own way," said Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt, who voted against the measures. "Today, by this motion, we do a 180 and now agree to pick up part of the tab for F1 on Elroy and all of the tab for F1 on Kellam."

She added, "We have extremely strong footing to demand that the developers pay for the improvements, but we are instead going to have the taxpayers pay."

County officials gave no cost estimates but have said that race-related road improvements, including those for Elroy and Kellam, would cost $8 million. 

Track officials were pleased by the vote.

"It sounds like this gets the ball rolling," said Circuit of the Americas spokeswoman Julie Loignon. "They are in for at least part of it."

Previously, the county agreed only to pay for the repaving of Elroy and the existing portion of Kellam. Both roads are in disrepair.

Kellam is currently a road to nowhere. One resident estimated there are fewer than 10 residences on it. Two properties are between Kellam and Pearce. An 82-acre tract off Kellam is under option to someone associated with the track, a representative for Rainbow Properties said recently. On Pearce, the state General Land Office owns a 657-acre tract.

Within the past few weeks, track officials presented the county with a plan in which Circuit of the Americas would do the work on extending Kellam if it was then reimbursed. At that time, Loignon said: "We have not determined who would actually manage the project. That work would need to be bid out."

Commissioner Margaret Gomez, who supported the county picking up some of the cost of the road improvements, said the Kellam extension is needed for emergency vehicles.

"I'm not going to take a chance that some disaster will take place in Precinct 4 because a resident was unable to get to an emergency vehicle because the congestion prevented that," Gomez said. "If there has been a turnaround on my part, it's because I haven't been in denial."

The F1 event could draw up to 120,000 fans for the Sunday race and 300,000 over the three-day weekend. The Statesman

Ecclestone proposes 'Grand Slam' F1 races
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone's latest proposal is that F1's most important races become a tennis-like 'Grand Slam'.

Insisting that the calendar will probably not expand much beyond 20 races, the F1 chief executive also admitted that "circumstances change".

If that's the case, the most important races could be like international tennis' Slams.

"Absolutely," Ecclestone told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.  "I'm working on it.

"And if it gets that far, then there would be more points for the Grand Slam races."

Ecclestone confirms Concorde row with Mercedes
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed he is still at loggerheads with Mercedes over the new Concorde Agreement.

The German carmaker's team is the big missing name, after F1 chief executive Ecclestone announced recently he has agreed terms with "the majority" of the teams including Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.

"Mercedes is very important to formula one.  I have always supported them and I will always.

"I'm talking about the car company," Ecclestone told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The distinction he is making is that the disagreement he is having is with Brackley based Mercedes GP, the Ross Brawn led works outfit.

The team believes it should have been offered a better deal, based on Mercedes' long history in the sport.

Ecclestone disagrees.

"If you trace the roots of that team, they started as Tyrrell," he said.  "Since then, there have been four different owners and four different names.

"I can see little history with this (Mercedes) team," Ecclestone insisted.

The Briton confirmed that teams will receive bonuses under the new Concorde for "history and success", adding that Mercedes has won "one race" so far.

He confirmed that he has been in contact with Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche.

"I talked to him last week about my position on Mercedes.  I think he understood," said Ecclestone.

"I have spoken to the team manager about it and he seems to believe that the team has won a few world titles and about 80 races since the Tyrrell days."

Ecclestone backs customer cars, not budget cap
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he does not support moves to install a budget cap in F1.

"It wouldn't work," the sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The big teams are also unlikely to join the cause, after Lotus and Sauber said recently a capped budget would provide a fairer playing field.

Ecclestone continued: "You can't stop people from spending the money they have.  They will always find a way to get around whatever you try to do to control it.

"Instead, the technical rules should be written so that it is not possible to just use money to make a faster car," he insisted.

Another solution, said the 81-year-old Briton, is to allow smaller teams to buy year-old customer cars.

He said a clause will "probably" be written into the next Concorde Agreement.

Ecclestone acknowledged the dilemma that allowing customer cars could result in all the small teams buying the best car off-the-shelf, resulting in there being only a handful of constructors left on the grid.

"The way I'm imagining it, this would not be possible," he insisted.  "I'll tell you about it soon."

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